Ohio could see March primary, end to map flap

ANN SANNER Associated Press Published:

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Ohio Republicans would concede slight changes to the state's disputed congressional map in exchange for Democratic votes needed to move all the state's 2012 primaries back to March under a compromise plan being discussed by state lawmakers.

The deal was still tentative Wednesday afternoon, though the House was expected to vote on the plan Wednesday night. Senate action could soon follow that.

The primaries were separated in October to give lawmakers more time to compromise on new congressional district boundaries after a Republican-drawn map was challenged by Democrats, who have been gathering signatures in an effort to ask voters to repeal it on next year's ballot.

Currently, Ohio's state, local and U.S. Senate primaries are planned for March, but the presidential and U.S. House primaries are scheduled to take place in June.

A second primary election day would cost taxpayers an additional $15 million. Critics have said the two primary days would cost more and confuse voters, and candidates also have balked.

A House Democratic official said the tentative compromise includes a redistricting task force to study reforms to the mapmaking process.

Keary McCarthy, chief of staff for the House Democrats, said roughly a dozen Democrats were on board with the plan.

The compromise also would make several districts slightly more competitive, McCarthy said.

Any compromise bill to reunite the primaries would need 66 votes in the 99-member House and 22 votes from the 33-member Senate for it to take effect immediately.

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